The true face of the Panamanian justice system was seen yesterday on television. Allegations of corruption, conspiracies, betrayals and politics were made by Supreme Court Justice Harry Diaz in an interview on Telemetro.
On the re-election of José Ayú Prado as chief justice, Diaz said the judges who supported his candidacy were "astonished at the reaction of the citizens."
Ayú Prado was re-elected despite the fact that he is the subject of 10 pending complaints in the National Assembly, most of them related to his relationship with former President Ricardo Martinelli.
When Díaz was asked if the executive was involved in the decision, he replied, "I don't know."
But he did outline a conversation that he had with Martinelli prior to the election of chief justice while he as in office. He said the former president urged him to drop out of the race and support Alejandro Moncada Luna. That vote would go to three rounds, which was unprecedented, and result in the election of Ayú Prado.
Those comments led to civil society leaders to criticize the influence of the executive over the judiciary.
The PRD party said that the comments by Diaz showed "the prevailing need to implement corrective actions in our justice system."
"It is clear that President Juan Carlos Varela is involved in the other two organs of the state, influencing decisions and applying the same techniques used by the government of President Ricardo Martinelli, unfortunately nothing has changed," it continued.
In the same vein, constitutionalist Mario Galindo said Ayú Prado should resign as chief justice.
His candidacy was supported by both Cecelio Cedalise and Angela Russo, who were both appointed by Varela, and who supported Ayú Prado hours after being sworn into office. That vote has raised questions about whether they were acting independently or following orders from the executive.